Real Ale, the specialist craft beer retailer, has been instrumental in the development of a range of own-label canned beers for M&S, set to launch this month.

The line-up includes three beers and two ciders, which are part of the craft range, and a British lager, in advance of the football World Cup.

For the past 11 years, Real Ale has been an official supplier agent to M&S helping the multi-national retailer source products from smaller craft and regional producers nationally and internationally.

The new British own-label range includes 500ml cans of: a new single and four-pack lager from Norfolk-based brewer Woodforde’s; 330ml cans of apple and pear, and apple and rhubarb cider from Kentish Pip, Kent; a double-hopped Citra Ale from Peterbrough-based Oakham Ales; a Pale Ale from Arbor Ales, Bristol; and a Cornish-styled Saison from St Austell Brewery, Cornwall.

Zeph King, managing director of Real Ale, said: “This exciting own-label canned range further demonstrates M&S’ credentials as an innovator in the craft beer and cider sectors. The progressive styles, inventive use of flavours and the new brands are testament to the retailer’s commitment to both its own consumers and Britain’s smaller breweries.

Massive boost

“M&S customers gain access to unusual — often hard to source — products, while small craft breweries and cider producers get a massive boost.

“Several of the producers’ businesses have grown thanks to M&S support, including artisan cider producer Kentish Pip. It will also be the first time that Norfolk-based brewery Woodforde’s will have a lager with a national in-store presence.”

Michael Wallis, beer buyer for M&S, added: “The 330ml can format is growing in popularity, with many of our consumers wanting to purchase a chilled product on the move. Our aim is to offer customers the best selection of own-label cans, alongside our diverse branded line-up, with the convenience of buying great British beers and ciders from their local M&S store.”

Real Ale’s technical team works closely with individual craft producers, advising them on ingredients, production of tasting notes, as well as the best product selection to present to M&S. The team also ensures that all breweries are operating to M&S standards for food safety, hygiene and quality, and have robust due diligence systems in place to safeguard M&S’ brand integrity.

M&S has twice won industry accolades by being named multi-national beer retailer of the year in recognition of its range of craft beers from small independent breweries. Real Ale supplies more than 200 branded and own-label products to the retailer and has been instrumental in introducing M&S’ new 330ml canned range.

The new M&S own-label canned range is distinctive in appearance with its illustrative design and the name of the independent producer clearly displayed. The 330ml own-label canned range will be nationally in-store from this month.

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